Sunday, September 22, 2019

Hot Springs.....In The Year 2000

I've recently been going through some of the boxes of old film negatives that have been collecting dust for the past few years. I found several rolls of film that were taken in Hot Springs, all the way back....in the year 2000.



I know now that people are supposed to find a prestigious internship the summer before they graduate from college, one that can help put you on the path to future success in your desired career. Well that year, three friends and I did the opposite of that. We decided it would be fun to instead move to Hot Springs for the summer and all take jobs working at the Magic Springs theme park, which had just reopened. So we managed to snag jobs at the park (I worked in games!), and then also find a house to rent (an old run-down house in need of repairs that we got only because no one else wanted to move in there). I did take advantage of my time there and took a bunch of pictures, mostly using infrared black and white film.

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Infrared film can achieve some pretty cool effects, sometimes resulting in grainy and surreal photos. A blue sky would show in infrared film as a dark black, and plants and vegetation would vibrantly appear white like in this shot from an overlook in the National Park. You can tell this is an old photo because the Majestic Hotel is still there in the distant background (it was still open when this was taken, it would later close and then be partially destroyed by a fire).

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It was a fun film to play around with, although it was notoriously tricky and delicate to use. The film was extremely vulnerable to light, and had to be changed in complete darkness. If you weren't careful, the film would be ruined by light leaks (which several exposures I took were, because I was definitely not careful enough handling it). There was only one place in the state that would develop the film - a little shop called Pinkey's Photographic that used to be located near Central High in Little Rock. Unfortunately it, like so many other little independent photography shops, have long since closed down.

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This is a shot of the old National Baptist Hotel, which was built in 1923 as the Woodmen of Union Building. The building was empty and abandoned when this was taken, although it held a great deal of history. When it was built, the building contained a hotel, a performance venue and a bathhouse that catered to African American visitors. This was in the sad age of segregation, when African Americans were allowed to work in the fancy Bathhouse Row bathhouses but not actually allowed to take baths there. The National Baptist Hotel and Bathhouse closed in 1981, but was saved a few years ago and is now an independent living facility for people aged 55 and older.

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Along Central Avenue is the old Fountain Motel, one of several old motor inns that were built in the 1950s and 60s. The motel used to have this great old neon sign, but it has since been taken down and replaced with a sadly modern sign.

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Also near Central Avenue is the old Knickerbocker Hotel, which was built in the 1930s and catered to Jewish tourists and residents. The building is still empty and abandoned today.

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And one shot looking up at the Medical Arts Building, one of the most architecturally interesting buildings in the state. It was abandoned and empty when this was taken in 2000, and sadly nothing has changed since then.

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And while driving randomly around with a roll of regular black and white film, I stopped and got this shot. I can't remember where this was taken so who knows if it ever did become a fish stand.

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And one last shot from the time capsule of old negatives. This was from a roll of color film and again shows the old Medical Arts Building. Not much has changed in the decade or so since, except now the streetlights are LED and they give off a cool white color instead of the soft yellow of the sodium vapor lights.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

On The Waterfront

I was able to get out for a bit last weekend and ended up in Riverfront Park in North Little Rock. It was still hot and muggy, but mercifully there weren't that many mosquitoes out along the river. I made it in time to catch a bit of sunset over the Arkansas River and downtown Little Rock.

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And a panoramic view with the last bits of light from the sunset in the western sky, and the Main Street and Junction Bridges shining bright off to the east.

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And a closer view of just the Main Street Bridge, where the trolley rolled across a few times while I was out there.

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And one last shot, taken downriver by the Clinton Park Bridge, which was bathed in a deep red light.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A Delta Church

Often when visiting an abandoned building, you are left with several questions. When was this building abandoned and why was it left to the elements to decay and fade? Who were the people who built it, and who decided to let it go? A lot of times it is hard to find much information about some buildings, so they are left in mystery. I wish I knew more about this church, located in the Delta region of eastern Arkansas. It looks to have been abandoned for awhile, with part of the roof caved in and collapsed (making it a holy/holey roof).

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The interior of the church raises more questions, namely what happened here? Why is one half of the building nearly gone, while the other almost looks to be ok? What's the story with the piano in the middle? Did someone try to move it, only to manage to get it to this spot before giving up? Also there were some holes in the floor, would I fall through if I walked inside to take pictures?

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And a close-up view of the piano, with the gaping hole in the roof above. Which made me wonder how much longer this building will be standing? And how many people would mourn it once it inevitably collapses?

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Nearby was this old abandoned home, which was slowly being devoured by vines and weeds.

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Down the road was this old store, which despite what the "OPEN" sign says was definitely closed for business.

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Also nearby was this spherical building sitting by an old cotton gin, looking almost like a metal wigwam. I stopped for a few pictures and was greeted by a curious dog who stood in the street to see what I was up to (part of the town's version of the Paw Patrol, I'm guessing).

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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Pinnacle Mountain

Last weekend I took Jonah to Pinnacle Mountain State Park, and we walked along the Arkansas Arboretum Trail. The trail is great for toddlers - it's not too long, and there aren't any steep parts or places where he could fall off a cliff. The trail, along with the park's playground, are a favorite spot for draining a toddler's energy levels so that he's good for naptime (which more importantly means I can take a nap too).

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Just outside of the park is this old red barn, so I made a quick stop to get a few pictures before heading home and napping.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hurricane Lake

It's oddly interesting that Arkansas, a state that is not located on the ocean, has two wildlife/wilderness areas named after hurricanes. There is Hurricane Creek in the Ozarks, and then Hurricane Lake in the Delta near the metropolis of Bald Knob. Wonder how they both received their names? Did someone name them after their favorite drink that they enjoyed on Bourbon Street in New Orleans?

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The Hurricane Lake Wildlife Management Area encompasses about 17,000 acres, which contains several oxbow lakes and bottomland hardwoods. It's a popular spot for hunting and fishing (and also mosquitoes).

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Judsonia

The small town of Judsonia features not one but two old bridges that cross the Little Red River. One of them is an old automobile bridge, which was built in 1924 and is still open for traffic. And also wayward photographers who walk across to take a few pictures (there was also a guy fishing and a couple getting their portraits taken by another photographer). From the bridge you get a really good view of the other old bridge - the Union Pacific Rail Bridge, which was built in 1912 and is also still used by trains.

This was taken on a typical hot and muggy Arkansas summer day, which meant the camera immediately fogged up as soon as I got out of the car. But the foggy lens did at least match the drifting fog lurking along the river.

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Pawnee

Located just at the foot of the Main Street Bridge in North Little Rock is the National Pawn Shop, which opened in 1945 and holds the distinction of being the oldest pawn shop in the state. On the side of the building is this sign, which has cracked and broken off and revealed an older sign beneath it. Which is ok, even the Mona Lisa is falling apart.

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Tin Roof...Rusted

I was driving around Little Rock one lazy Sunday afternoon and tried to find a few things to get some pictures of. I made one quick stop at a parking lot underneath the Broadway Bridge, where there is this shell of an old concrete building. It's empty and has graffiti, but the window does have a pretty decent view of the bridge.

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After that I went through the little pocket of industrial area that sits in-between downtown and the airport. There are lots of warehouses and factories, and a few abandoned buildings. At this spot, vines and weeds had partially consumed the side of one abandoned building.

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And a few other buildings..

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There wasn't much traffic out on the streets, and the buildings themselves seemed really quiet. There were a few junkyard dogs on patrol behind a fence by this building, but they didn't seem eager to wake up from their nap to bark at anyone taking any pictures nearby.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

This Old House

Sitting just off the edge of downtown Little Rock is the old Woodruff House, which is one of the oldest homes in the city. It was constructed in 1853 for William Woodruff, who founded the Arkansas Gazette newspaper. The home was used by Union soldiers during the Civil War as an officer's headquarters and as a hospital. The Woodruffs eventually sold the house in 1891, and it went through several uses in the decades afterwards. It was a women's boarding home for awhile, and then was divided into apartments. In 1999, a tornado damaged the building (taking out most of the roof and almost all of the windows). A fire caused some minor damage to the house in 2005, and it has been vacant ever since. Luckily the Quapaw Quarter Association acquired the house and did some repairs and stabilized the structure, and have made it available for purchase now. The Woodruff House would require a lot of work to get it to be livable again but it does have a great location - it is just right within walking distance of all the delicious beers being brewed at Lost Forty.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Into The Spider-Verse

A large spider recently decided to take up residence on our back porch, where it strings up a large web each night by the lights. I managed to do a little time-lapse of it one night as it started building the web, which took about 30-40 minutes. I was a little disappointed that the spider didn't leave any messages like in Charlotte's Web, but hopefully it did catch a bunch of mosquitoes.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Waverly

From Cotton Plant, I drove further east into the Delta. The drive took me through small towns and fields, and even by one police officer who pulled me over for speeding (but was kind enough to let me go on a warning, thanks!). I made a few stops, including this one at an old abandoned building that had this strange clump of dead vine stuck to its side.

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And then in the town of Wynne I stopped by the railroad tracks to get as shot (but didn't stay there too long, a big freight train passed by a few minutes later).

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I managed to keep my speed under control as I drove towards West Memphis and then stopped by this old church, which was surrounded by a sea of tall grass. The sun was starting to set, and golden light was streaming in from the west.

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An old propane tank sat by the church, flanked by two windows that had some some wispy and ghostly remains of curtains. I wasn't able to find much info about this church, but did see a post that determined that the church was once called St. John's Missionary Baptist Church.

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Just down the road is what I think was an old cotton gin that was once part of the Waverly Plantation.

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I wasn't able to find any info on when this building was constructed, but it may have been sometime in the 1920s or 1930s.

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Vines and ivy were growing wild on the back of the building, which was empty on the inside (except for a few owls who were living inside).

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Next to the building were soybean fields and a few other buildings, and also a stretch of mud that had dried out in the summer heat.

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The cracked and dried mud created some interesting patterns and colors.

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And some last shots, of a few plants that managed to catch hold in the mud and have grown up from the splintered dirt.

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Saturday, July 27, 2019

Cotton Plant

From Des Arc, I drove further east through more of the flat lands of the Arkansas Delta. Along the way, I passed by this rusty old tractor that was surrounded by tall grass and weeds. The air was thick with humidity and with hundreds of dragonflies.

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The next stop was the small town of Cotton Plant, which has a population of about 650 people. Cotton Plant was once a thriving town, but it has faced the same economic struggles that have afflicted so many Delta towns. Many buildings along Main Street looked to be abandoned and were slowly crumbling away. Vines were growing up against the side of this building, which may have been a church at one time. In the background is the Cotton Plant Water Tower, which was built in 1935 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Along Main Street is this old store which still has some merchandise sitting out on display even though it has been abandoned for several years now. Thick dust covers everything inside, and the back wall of the building has collapsed.

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Nearby was this shell of a building, which was once the home of a liquor store. The window here may have once been a drive-through window, maybe?

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While these pictures only show abandoned and neglected buildings, it should be noted that there has been some recent positive news for the town of Cotton Plant. The town, which was named after cotton is now the home of another kind of plant - marijuana. After the state of Arkansas approved the sale of medical marijuana, a site in Cotton Plant was selected to host the state's first marijuana cultivation facility. Hopefully the economic impact of the cultivation facility will help dispel the chronic economic problems and help to lead the city to new highs.

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